Nike has reportedly pulled a sneaker from production that was meant to celebrate the Fourth of July after a complaint from former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick over the shoe’s depiction of an early version of the American flag.
Sources familiar with the matter have told The Wall Street Journal that Kaepernick — who has been featured in advertisements for Nike — complained to the company about selling a shoe that depicts an image he and others consider offensive.
The sneaker company created the Air Max 1 USA in celebration of the Fourth of July holiday, but it has now reportedly asked that the shoes not go on sale. Slated to be sold in stores this week, the shoes are not available through Nike and the company has apparently asked retailers to return the product already shipped with no explanation.
The heel of the news shoes featured the United States flag with 13 white stars in a circle, a design used during the American Revolution. The early American flag is often referred to as the “Betsy Ross flag.”
“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag,” a spokeswoman for Nike said.
Though Kaepernick — known more for kicking off national anthem protests in the NFL than for anything he ever did as an athlete — has not commented on the matter publicly, he apparently took issue with the shoe design because the flag being used is from a time when slavery was still legal.
Pulling the sneakers is having the opposite effect than likely intended because there are already Air Max 1 USA being sold on sneaker-reselling site StockX. The sneakers are going for as much as 950 dollars, as of this writing.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016, but he became the face of an advertising campaign with Nike, which caused quite a stir with fans. Many vowed to protest the company and even posted videos of them destroying their Nike gear. Despite this the company did see a boost in sales following their partnership with Kaepernick.
By partnering with Kaepernick, Nike had already become a political company, but this cements their status as one. The explanation for pulling the shoes from production — it featured “an old version” of the American flag — is ridiculous. They aren’t even trying to explain this one away. If they are pulling it because it features an old version of the American flag then why greenlight its production in the first place.
The explanation that Kaepernick complained about the shoe design is far more likely because the former quarterback has long stood in opposition to the American flag. It’s sickening to see a company as well-known as Nike taking orders from a man who could only make his athletic career stand out by disrespecting the American flag.
The decision by Nike has already been earning plenty of blowback on social media.
“No more @nike sneakers for our family,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted in reaction to the news.
Check out other reactions below:
America and the promise made in the Declaration of Independence gave birth to the greatest nation on the planet. But Kaepernick and the corporate PC police are embarrassed by the flag and that promise. Pathetic. Stand for America and the flag! #MAGA #KAG https://t.co/9zlb7WzNWY
— Kimberly Guilfoyle (@kimguilfoyle) July 2, 2019
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 2, 2019
— Deb (@WhippetmomDeb) July 2, 2019
Disgusting. This is why I haven’t bought Nike shit in years and will never buy again. https://t.co/BFMka59GFE
— David K. Rawls (@HernandoReb) July 2, 2019
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